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Noble Samuel, Former V.I. Senator, Dies

Dec. 8, 2004 –– Former senator and St. John administrator Noble Samuel died Wednesday on St. Croix. He was 78.
A memorial service will be held at 5:15 Friday, Dec. 17, upstairs at the Battery in Cruz Bay, St. John.
Samuel served two terms as senator-at-large from 1973 through 1976.
"Sen. Samuel served back in a time when memories of the legislative branch and its early struggles were still fresh in the minds of the citizens," Sen. Louis P. Hill said in a Wednesday news release.
Acting Gov. Vargrave Richards said in a release that Samuel was warm and caring to his constituents. He said Samuel spent an inordinate amount of time, and listened attentively and emphatically, to those in need.
"He paid particular care to the neediest and went above and beyond the call of duty to bring relief and assistance to all who sought him out," Richards said.
He said, although Samuel was committed to all the people of the Virgin Islands, those of St. John were foremost in his mind.
"I join the Virgin Islands community in bidding farewell to a man of distinct and immeasurable honor, a true son of V.I. soil," Richards said.
Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd, the current at-large-senator, said Samuel was a man of vision who gave of himself to improve the quality of life on St. John.
"Nobel was a giant of a man who seldom raised his voice, but accomplished many great things for people from all walks of life," Liburd said. Samuel was his cousin.
While Samuel served with distinction, his best-known moment may have come when he took Lady Bird Johnson snorkeling. She was the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson.
An interview with Samuel appeared in the January 1968 National Geographic article about the Virgin Islands.
He was born at Pastory, St. John, one of Amelia and Henry Samuel's 10 children.
In a 1986 interview with this reporter, he said that he started work at age 16 as a laborer in the Public Works Department. By age 18, he was teaching at St. John's East End School, and at 19, he was dipping ice cream in a store at the Grand Hotel on St. Thomas. After a few years spent bartending and at store jobs, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952. He spent two years in Korea.
After a stint in New York, he returned home to St. John in 1958, where he found a job as a policeman. In 1962, he joined the V.I. National Park, rising through the ranks until he became special assistant for VIPs.
In 1972, friends convinced him to run for the senator-at-large post.
While a senator, he served as chairman of the Home Rule and Interstate Committee, vice chairman of the Agriculture Committee and member of the Finance Committee. He sponsored a bill that provided $90,000 for the St. John ambulance boat.
He was elected to office twice, but lost to former Sen. Cleone Creque in 1976. He returned to the Park Service, working as superintendent at Christiansted National Historic Site until 1981. He bought land on St. Croix, returning there when he left public life.
In 1983, then-Gov. Juan F. Luis appointed him to the post of St. John administrator. He served until Luis left office in 1987.
The current St. John administrator, Julien Harley, was raised by Samuel, who was his uncle.
"He was a father to me," Harley recalled.
He said that Samuel had strong values and respected people.
Edmund Roberts worked with Samuel at the national park. He said Samuel was extremely popular with the public.
"He was good at what he did," Roberts said.
Harley said Samuel is survived by his wife, Barbara, and a daughter, Bernice Samuel.
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